The sky was a bright blue, birds were singing, a family of deer was quietly wandering a fenced in field. I drove through the empty streets with caution. Roadkill was a thing of the past, and I was determined it would remain that way, especially since so much more wildlife had sprung up. I made my way patiently to the tiny music store in town, across from the big church I had been to once or twice several years ago.
I visited the shop frequently, so breaking in was no problem. I mastered lockpicking as a distraction project and consequently every store in town was now 'open for business,' as well as they could be with no patrons. Or employees. Or owners.
Usually I rode my bike (gotta stay in shape for that special no-one,) but today I was raiding the store and needed something to carry everything. I popped the trunk and slipped inside, flipping the lights on and plugging my boombox in. I couldn't go anywhere without it- the silence was mentally crippling. I busied myself with collecting one of every instrument they had and loading up the car while singing along with Brett Dennan. I would have to come back for a drumset.
Once I had acquired all I needed, it was time to set up for the special talent show I had planned for all my friends. But first I needed friends. I hopped back into the car and drove to Walmart. I hated this place more than anything- it was huge, echoed, impossible to keep safe from wildlife. Just plain scary. My imagination tormented me best in this place- shadows flickered in my peripheral view, unidentifiable noises crept in behind the music. I just quoted Jeff Dunham's old man puppet line over and over like a mantra to get myself through every time I had to come here 'Welcome to Walmart. Get your shit and get out, get your shit and get out, get your shit and get out...'
The problem was, if I ran and grabbed stuff, I started to feel like there really was a reason I was running and I'd panic. But if I went in with a good head on my shoulders, deliberately picking my way through, that meant I spent more time in this hell, more time for paranoid thoughts to creep into my brain.
I thought this place sucked before when there were people...but without them it was so much worse.
I knew exactly what I wanted and where it would be this time, so I chose a happy medium- walk quickly and sing my versions of Disney songs very loudly.
"Look at this crap, isn't it cheap? How many fluffy plushies do I need?" I belted as I tossed stuffed animals into my cart. "Now I think it's time to go. Skip the checkout, and let's roll." I booked it out of the store and emerged panting in the parking lot.
"Walgreens has stuffed animals!" I kicked the cart in my frustration and it bumped the door of the car I had left running at the front doors.
I had already set up chairs (taken from the University) in a semi circle in the parking lot of the apartment building I was living in. I went to work, putting each stuffed animal in its own chair. Now I had to name them. I had a stack of sticky name tags I ended up having to pin to most of them since they wouldn't hold onto the fake fur. It took a while, but eventually everyone had their own name, and I moved on to the instruments, setting them up on the tables. I had several extension cords winding their way over to hook up an electric keyboard, microphone, karaoke machine, and tv. Today was going to be a blast, a last hurrah before I took a road trip around the US in hopes of finding others, but I planned on sailing to other countries if I couldn't find anyone here.
"Martha, I'm going to need you to remain seated during the show," I scolded a stuffed Pomeranian, picking it up and settling it back in its chair.
"Hellooooo Mollyville! Welcome to the Long Goodbye Talent Show! I'm your host, Genevieve Jettson- please put your paws, claws, and hooves together for our first act, Trumpet to the Moon!" I hit a key on the keyboard, and an applause track played. I bowed and selected the trumpet from the array on the tables.